- Cutting ropes
- Easy to service
- Switch placement
- Drainage system in cover box
- Anchor installation
- Fitting covers around high-end
- Accommodating planters
- Covers on wood decks
While installing an automatic
cover, when should you cut the ropes, and how much length should
After the ropes, fabric and leading edge have been installed,
retract the cover so the leading edge is about six inches from the
start of the track, or about half-way across the lowered beam wall.
Mark each rope at four feet from its reel pulley, melt the ropes at
each mark, and cut through the melted area. Attach the ropes to the
mechanism and turn the reels to take up the excess rope.
Cut the ropes after you have pulled them through the tracks and
pullies, when they are positioned at the rope reel. The leading
edge bar, cover guides and sliders should be installed and the
cover ready to retract over the pool. At this point, the ropes
should be pulled taut, with the same amount of pressure on each.
It’s helpful to have 4-to-5 feet of extra rope because it can
be used to make minor adjustments later. Mark each rope and use a
torch to melt the outer portion of the rope, then cut. This
prevents the rope from pulling apart on the ends. Never cut the
ropes when the cover is over the pool.
The cover must be rolled up on the drum to ensure that the ropes
are in both sides of the track. Then run the ropes through the
pulley network, and pull both ropes together toward the opposite
end of the pool, with at least 5 feet each. You can then cut them
together, at the same point.
How can you make covers
easy to service down the road?
Make sure you’ve been trained on how to install track and
cover systems, and follow instructions for installing the tracks
and the system properly. Ensure proper chemical balance is
maintained and that any standing water is pumped off the cover
Choose a product that is designed with service in mind. This could
include brackets that are easily removed, quick disconnects on
electrical components and slider assemblies.
Picking a system with modular design characteristics makes it
easier to service from the beginning.
How should the switch be
The switch should be permanently mounted in a location at least
five feet from the water’s edge within full view of the pool.
The switch should be accessed by a code or have a key that can be
removed and stored in a secure location.
It should be placed so the user has a complete view of the pool
when operating the pool cover. Five feet above ground level or the
position the person is standing while operating the cover is
recommended. For safety reasons, a momentary coded touch pad, which
has to be depressed to operate the cover, is ideal. The touch pad
has to have a user code in order to activate the cover, eliminating
the problem of a key left in the switch. People often leave their
keys in the switch, making it easy for a small child to open the
cover without supervision.
The switch can be anywhere as long as the operator has a full,
unobstructed view of the pool.
How should I set up a
drainage system for the cover box?
The bottom of the box should slope to a 3-inch drain to prevent any
water accumulation from rain, pool splash or retracting the
There are options here. If there is good drainage, pea gravel can
be placed in the bottom of the box, and that becomes the drain. A
French drain can be installed with pipes carrying the water into
it. The last option is draining into the public sewer system. In
the last two cases, the drains should be located at the ends of the
mechanism where they can be reached for cleaning. They should also
be slightly lower than the middle of the cover vault.
The cover recess must have a drain to prevent stagnation of
standing water. This can be achieved a number of ways. You can have
a hard drain line tied into the perimeter drain system, or if there
is no slope, a rock pit, sometimes referred to as a French drain,
can be used.
How should anchors be
placed around the pool to ensure the best fit of the cover?
Having the actual cover on-site is key to any installation. Then,
the straps can be used to determine the exact location of the
anchors. The “clock theory” of installation is highly
suggested, meaning the center length straps are installed first and
the center width straps second (much like a clock’s hands at
12 and 6 and then 3 and 9). Once those straps are taken care of,
the straps just outside are then installed, leaving the corners and
center quadrants last. Make sure to tighten from the center of the
cover outward for a wrinkle-free installation. Anchors are
typically about 20 inches from the cover’s perimeter, based
on decking widths.
The anchors should be placed at the end of the strap. In order to
get a straight pull on the webbing, the anchor must be in the exact
line of the strap. If you allow the anchor to stray off to either
side, a wrinkle will appear on the edge of your cover.
Anchors should be placed on the deck so the cover is taut. On most
rectangular pools, the overlap of the cover is approximately 12
inches, and the anchors should be placed 18 inches from the cover.
On free-form pools, cover overlap will vary depending on the
manufacturer. If you don’t receive a layout of the cover with
your cover delivery, check with its maker. For this, the anchors
are also installed 18 inches back from the cover. In general,
always double-check the size of the cover you are about to install
against what you ordered. It just might save you a lot of wasted
time and effort.
Start from the center and work your way out from there. This
technique works on a freeform or a rectangle. Then you can pull the
corners tight for a taut fit.
When fitting a cover
around boulders, islands and other high-end features, what
precautions must be taken?
High-end features such as raised walls must be anchored in first
with cables, as they do not have overlaps to play with. Once they
are securely fastened, you can pull them out and tighten them
during the rest of the installation.
Again, a straight pull on the strap is necessary to prevent
wrinkling of the cover, and that attachment must be made first to
ensure a close-up fit to rocks, boulders, etc. The opposite-side
attachment comes after the cutouts are in place.
With special features like boulders and rocks placed at the
water’s edge, the cover should be placed around them before
any anchors are installed. Then make sure you have proper alignment
and overlap of the entire cover before drilling. If you are
drilling into any of these special features, make sure the wall or
feature is strong enough to support the wall anchor and
When compiling measurements, include details and pictures. If you
are installing the cover, center it on the obstruction, making it
equal on each side.
When a planter sits
directly adjacent to the pool, how should the straps and anchors be
used to accommodate it?
Planters next to the pool can be addressed in a couple of ways. You
can install the straps with springs to a stake or to a paver tube,
which can be additionally supported by up to 5/8-inch rebar within
the tube. Or you can use extension straps to go over the planter
and attach to the decking beyond.
You’ll need a cable kit wrapped around or attached to the
planter to ensure a snug fit of the cover.
Planter beds require a pipe, which is usually supplied by the
manufacturer. The anchor is placed inside the pipe and then
installed in the planter bed to keep the cover taut. If the
backfill or soil in the planter is soft and won’t hold the
pipe in place, a footing might have to be placed to compensate.
Also check for any sprinkler or plumbing lines in the
If there is a planter adjacent to the pool, provide precise
measurements and the location of the obstruction. Depending on the
size, engineers first try to avoid placing a strap in that
location, or they will provide a Y-strap. If that is not possible,
a cutout can be made to fit the object. Again, pictures make it
easier to get a recommendation for the most appropriate
What are special concerns when
installing a cover on a pool that has wooden
First, determine if the deck itself is solid enough to hold
anchors. Old, rotten decking is less than ideal. If the decking is
new and solid, you can use a wood deck anchor, which can be
recessed down into the decking. If the deck is thick enough, a
standard concrete anchor can still be used. Hollow Trex-type
decking presents its own can of worms. Scabbing extra material
under the deck and out of sight might be needed to beef up the
Wooden decks must have a width of at least 3 feet around the entire
circumference of the pool. The wider the better.
This requires a wood deck anchor supplied by the manufacturer.
Check to make sure the wood has proper thickness and is in good
shape before installing your anchors.
When fitting a wood-deck anchor cover, be sure to use the proper
tool for drilling and counter-boring the anchor. This will ensure a
clean cut and a good fit.